Friday, April 22, 2011

The Blog is Moving!

Hello all,

I'm moving the blog over to There is a new post there titled, Step Four: Gather it up and Toss it in the Trash.

When I figure out how, I'll add an auto-direct.

Thanks for patience. I hope you'll follow me there.


Monday, April 11, 2011

More on Romantic Times

Amid the rash of comments regarding yesterday’s blog, I noted Tana’s request for more info about who I met at RT. I aim to please. Therefore, get some tea, drag over your chair and I’ll spin you a tale.

I’m not big on large groups of people. After my first terror-inducing ride in one of the hotel’s horrible glass elevators, I had to give myself a pep-talk. “Go down there,” I said to that stubborn inner-voice that had been spooked by the first wash of crowds in the lobby. She wasn’t open to persuasion. I might still be debating the subject if the negotiations had been left to a my logic-persona and my cringing, alter-ego.

But I got hungry. And, as is true in most situations, the stomach won.

I sent a text to a friend (Hello Dani) and met her for dinner. And that was the start. Between my fear of the elevators, my constantly empty stomach, and the pure comfort of the bar, I found my happy place. Yes, there were times when I longed for a bath, an aspirin and a really gorgeous guy to give me a foot rub. But most of the time, I found myself thinking, “wow, don’t forget this.”

As in--don’t forget eating breakfast and realizing that Joanna Bourne is sitting right beside you, working on her manuscript. Let’s stop for second to embrace my inner conflict. Her w.i.p. was right there. On. Her. Laptop. A rude, underhanded person might have feigned dropping their napkin to steal a glance at the words on her screen…It crossed my mind, but so has robbing a bank, and as yet, I haven’t fallen victim to that particular urge. So, I didn’t peek, and she never lifted her head from her work, and thus, she remained oblivious to the fact that we were sharing a moment. The way Joanna Bourne was studying her prose? Well, I know the evil eye when I see it. Just like her, I have scowled at my monitor and thought, “This is an awkward sentence. How can I fix it?” It was an instant of deep bonding.

Or how about this for another unforgettable memory? Deidre introduced me to one of TKA’s authors, the very gorgeous Kristen Painter, who has a book coming out with one of the most visually attractive covers I’ve seen in awhile. Heck, if the book is as cool and fab as Kristen, it’s going to sell off the charts. Anyhow, my new pal tugged me along, and I found myself crashing an exclusive fete. True, the party was almost over, and I was so cowed by terror that I made like a tree in the corner, but I saw them. Big authors. Together. Sort of a visual feast spread out in front of me. I so wished I'd pack a little spy doohickie that captures audio:-)

I learned a lot at RT. Not only from the panels (which I found really useful), but from people who were willing to share their opinions and insights. At one gathering I attended, Barbara Vey made a comment that made my brain wander to another question. When I saw her passing by the lounge the next day, I asked if she had a minute to answer something. Not only did she satisfy my curiosity--the kind woman ended up teaching me how to tweet. All right. I admit that I hadn’t made much progress on the twitter thing; partly because every time I tried to read an educational blurb about hash-tags, white noise filled my head. Barbara took the bull (or in this case the cow) by the horns (tail) and stood behind me while I fumbled my way through my first use of the dreaded hashtag. I must have looked like a particular dullard, because I misspelled her name three times. Normally, that would have embarrassed me, and I’d have made a quick reference to the family’s long history of l.d.’s, but I was so enthralled by my first tweet that included the proper use of @ and  # in one coherent message that I never got around to doing so.

Generosity. I saw it all over the place. One screen-playing writing author gave me her card and said my daughter could contact her for advice. Another author offered to blurb me. (I’d mention her name, but I don’t want to put her on the spot.) Here’s the thing about fellow word-smiths. Most have experienced the same deep, festering need for validation via publication. They can recollect the struggles. The hardships. The knocks on peach-soft skin. And so, the majority of them are very kind. Not all of them. I saw some other stuff too. Some of it was a bit stomach-tensing, but I’m going to let that go. Let’s dwell on the good things. Or if not that, then the funny stuff.

For example, Patrick Rothfuss.

That poor man. I saw him crossing the lounge, and I had a total fan-girl reaction. I was shameless. First, I started by ogling and smiling at him in such an unavoidably forward manner that he came over to my table and said, apologetically, “I know you, don’t I?” Now, in hindsight, the correct response would have been. “Of course you do. How have you been my friend?”

It would have been the smart thing, no? Instead, I leaped out of my chair like I had won a date with George Clooney, and then…(deep shudder)…I launched myself into that black-hole of humiliation reserved for truly rabid fans--the complete, fluttering hand, impassioned delivery of the most blush-worthy platitudes ever assembled in one babbling speech that the author of THE NAME OF THE WIND was rendered momentarily speechless.

Clever man, Patrick Rothfuss. He hugged me--effectively rendering me mute, and then he backed away and got on the elevator and no one saw him for another 24 hours.

Back to the salt mines tomorrow. Ah, but today. The memories…

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Seven Questions for Deidre

As written, April 9, Hotel Bonaventure,

I am at the RT convention in Los Angeles, sitting in my favourite seat in the bar, staring at my least favourite feature in the Hotel Bonaventure—the glass elevators. They are such a problem for me, these miserably windy conveniences. First, because I'm on the 15th floor, which eliminates the fine-I'll-just-use-the-stairs option. And secondly, because every time I step into one of these plexi-glass nightmares, I come up with a new falling-death scenario. The worst is being trapped in one of the hotel’s elevators during an earthquake. I use up just about every well-worn movie trope imaginable over that one.

All things considered, I'm not keen on using those elevators, and so, that's the excuse I offer to the fact that I'm writing this blog seated at my preferred table in the lobby's bar. I have the laptop, the glass of merlot and the topic.

So far, the blog has been building on a linear fashion. A ‘Moment’ followed by a Step, followed by another ‘Moment’--kind of like threading pearls onto a sturdy string. But today, we’re going to deviate just slightly from the one-foot-in-front-of-the-other format. We’re going to talk about conventions, because I don’t want to wait for another year to shine the light on another great tool in your quest to find the perfect representation.

If you’re new to writing, you may think that the only way you’re going to get an agent is through a query, which is real bad news for some of you, because it just may happen that you truly suck at condensing your story outline into 35 words of pithy brilliance. If that realization has come a little late, and the form rejections are falling into your inbox with depressing speed, here’s something to cheer you up: a convention gives you another crack at pitching your book. Many agents use these gatherings as opportunity to discover new talent. They’re not there for the hangover or entertainment, they’re looking for someone new. It could be you. That is, if you have a smokin’ finished manuscript, and the story-skills to pull off another one.

Now, remember, I used the adjective ‘many’. Some agents have a full client-list, and so they go to the event with a different agenda. Their dance card is full of meetings--editors, clients, and friends. Do your homework before you go. Know who’s going to be there, and what their interests are. Be prepared.

During this convention, I had my first in-person meet with my agent, the—gosh-darn, hand-over-heart, awesome—Deidre Knight. I went to the appointment with the intention of not wasting it, but of course I did squander time, because, well, did I mention my newly acquired agent was super, and funny and she made me feel all gooey-happy inside?

Once we got past the, oh-thank-God-we’re-hugely-compatible segment of the appointment, we got down to business. And that’s when I pulled out my list of seven questions.

Here they are:
1)    How did she plan to sell my book?  
2)    Will I stay in the loop during the process? How much of the feedback, negative or positive, will I hear?
3)    If she sells my book, what will my next 12 months look like?
4)    If I ever signed for a series, what will her involvement be, once the ink is dry on the page?
5)    What did she think about  the ‘branding’ issue, and in terms of a platform, where am I weak, and what steps should I  take to remedy those flaws?
6)    What does she want from a client? If she could choose just one thing from me—other than the obvious ‘write a wonderful story’ option—what would it be?
7)    I have something else I’d like her to look at. Did she have time to read it?

She answered those questions with honesty and clarity, and now I have another list of goals. One day, you might find yourself sitting opposite your agent, with your little heart going pitty-pat in your chest. Have you got your list of seven questions ready?